In everyone’s life, there comes a time when you must make a decision so critical that it determines the course of your future. For Oditte Odisho, that decision was choosing between being a pro basketball player and going back home to take care of her ailing mother. In 2014 she got the offer of a lifetime – a contract to play professionally in Romania. Shortly after signing the paperwork, she was faced with what many would describe as the hardest decision of her life. In the end, Oditte chose her mother over a basketball career.
“It was my mom, so what could I do? She was in a place where there was nobody else. She was a single mom and my siblings were away at school. So, I came back but then the aftermath of questioning whether I messed up stuck with me for a while” she explains.
Oditte says for the first year or two, she didn’t touch a ball. She couldn’t go to any games. She had to just step away from the sport but slowly she fell back into things and got her foot back in the door.
“Realistically speaking, I have no regrets. If I had to make that decision over, I would make the same choice because for me basketball is an open chapter” she affirms.
But where did this chapter begin?
Born in Syria, Oditte moved twice in her childhood – first at age 5 to Chicago and again at 10 years old to Ontario, Canada. It was while living in Ontario that she was first introduced to the game.
“I had just turned 12,” she says. “I was in grade 6. One day I was outside playing red butt- (throwing a tennis ball against a wall) and the basketball coach just came up to me. He said, ‘do you play any sports?’ and I said no. He said, ‘you have a really good arm, I’m gonna get you to try out for the team. Let me see what you can do on the basketball court.’”
Oditte ended up making the team. Her first season she broke every school record. She played in 13 games and scored 287 points. That was the beginning of a successful basketball career featuring buzzer beating shots and championships. The recognition from outside her community would follow and she was selected to participate in the P.H.A.S.E. 1’s All Canada Classic – Rising Stars All Star Game in 2006 and 2007 with the top upcoming girl ballers in Canada.
During her high school years at John Paul II Catholic Secondary School, she led her team to three straight city championships and three western Ontario secondary schools athletic association titles. In 2008, she won the Fran Wigston award for being the best female high school basketball player in London, Ontario.
Word of her talent spread far and wide and in 2008 she was selected as a 2nd Team All Canadian and would receive an invite to the Jordan Brand Sponsored, All Canada Classic-Rumble in the T-Dot national high school all star game held at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario.
In the 2008 All Canada Classic event that included a boys all star game with future NBA Players Cory Joseph, Andrew Nicholson and Tristan Thompson then a girls game where she shared the floor with future WNBA stars Nathalie Achonwa and Kayla Alexander, Oditte had the crowd buzzing and walked away crowned the girls game MVP.
Oditte credits P.H.A.S.E. 1 with propelling her to achieve much of the success that she did in the sport. She says playing in “Rumble in the T-Dot” and attending basketball camps helped to develop her skills. She adds that the camps allowed her to develop lifelong connections with people who were on a similar journey. Oditte says 10 to 15 years later, the communication is still there with many of the people she met at camp as there was an unspoken trust built at those camps.
She stays in touch with P.H.A.S.E. 1 founder Wayne Dawkins and she says “Wayne has been great throughout the years keeping past alumni connected with the basketball community. Regardless of where he has been, he has always filled me in. I love that P.H.A.S.E. 1 is still P.H.A.S.E. 1.”
“Oditte was one of the most electrifying basketball players we had ever seen in our All Canada Classic national high school all star game. She made moves that had the crowd oohing and aahhing from start to finish. Oditte always had a smile and positive energy with every interaction. Over the years many alumni disconnect with events and teams from their past but Oditte always answers my call for updates on her journey and feedback on alumni events that P.H.A.S.E. 1 has planned. She will always have a special place in Canadian basketball history as our only athlete to win MVP 3x playing against the countries best basketball players in the All Canada Classic Rising Stars and Rumble in the T-Dot.” – Wayne Dawkins
While Oditte’s basketball chapter is still not closed, she has taken a step away from the sporting world to focus on other endeavours. She modelled professionally for 3 years working with major brands like Under Armour, Smirnoff, Nike and Spaldings. She is currently employed as a Personal Training Director and working with a publisher on a book of poetry.
She has always enjoyed writing and says the goal of her writing is to “effectively disturb you, to dig into some deep-down emotions that you’ve suppressed. It’s to bring those things out, and let you accept them, knowing that everybody goes through struggles of their own.”
Oditte hopes to influence others, not just through her writing but through her legacy. She believes that everyone has a duty as a human being to influence somebody else, to be that person you needed growing up. Oditte says the most important people to be accountable for is the next generation, because they are going to grow up to be the leaders of tomorrow.
“We have to take care of the next. The next, takes care of the next and it’s an on-going chain” she expresses.
At the same time, she is encouraging young people to be themselves, to be authentic and to find their passion.
“Once you find your passion,” she says, “the fuel will come. Sometimes fuel comes in the form of money, sometimes in the form of winning awards. But when you have your passion, you can find unlimited fuel. And your passion is within you. It’s your God given talent.”